The best time to balance your checkbook is within a few days of receiving your monthly credit union statement. The fewer transactions you've incurred since the date the statement was prepared by the credit union, the quicker your reconciliation will go. (Hint: ACCESS Online will show all history on your account up to the minute, if the transaction has been processed. It is a great way to stay current on your account.)
You can also get your statement faster by choosing the e-Statement ooption, allowing your statement to be sent electronically through e-mail. (Sign up for e-statement form. Forgot e-statement password?)
Step One: Reconcile Your Checks
The first step is to determine if there are any checks that haven't cleared yet. You can either sort your cancelled checks in check number order, or simply use the listing of your cleared checks in numerical order that is provided at the end of your statement. In your checkbook register, check off each cancelled check returned to you or each check that appears on the check listing, making sure the amount you recorded the check for is the amount the bank actually shows. It's easy to transpose numbers when writing the check amount in your register (writing $53.94 instead of $53.49, for example.)
Step Two: Reconcile Your Deposits
Make sure each deposit shown on your statement is recorded in your check register (especially if you have direct deposit, which you can easily forget to record).
Also, go through your deposit slips, paycheck stubs, etc., and make sure the statement shows all the deposits you made. Check off the deposits in your check register as you did for checks.
Step Three: Reconcile Your ATM Withdrawals and Debit Card Purchases
Go through the same process with your ATM withdrawals or debit card purchases, checking off each transaction on the statement in your check register. If the credit union shows transactions that aren't included in your check register, record them now. (Hint: Don't use the ATM balance on your account as the current balance. It may not reflect some transactions.)
Step Four: Record Dividends Earned and Any Fees
Check your statement for any other fees and record them in your checkbook register. Also record any dividends, also called interest, earned in your checkbook register.
Step Five: Complete the Balancing Form
The back of first page of your statement has a form that you can use to balance your checkbook.
1. Go through your checkbook register and list the outstanding checks on the balancing form (the checks that you did not check off in your check register as having cleared ), as well as any outstanding debit purchases or ATM withdrawals that have not yet cleared.
2. Total the column of outstanding checks, debits, and ATM withdrawals.
3. Go through your checkbook register and list the outstanding deposits on the balancing form (the deposits that you did not check off in your check register as having cleared the credit union).
4. Total the column of outstanding deposits.
5. Enter the ending balance shown on your statement.
6. Enter the total outstanding deposits.
7. Enter the total outstanding checks.
8. Record any fees appearing on your statement in your checkbook register.
9. Record any dividends earned appearing on your credit union statement in your checkbook register.
10. Use a calculator to total the numbers you just entered on the form, and enter the new total. This should equal the balance shown in your checkbook register. If it doesn't, check for math errors in your checkbook register, such as reversed numbers (for instance, $53 instead of $35), subtracting a deposit instead of adding it, adding a check written instead of subtracting it, automatic payments that you forgot to record, etc.